I love a good romance. Always have, always will. Along my proficient journey of watching and reading romances, I have come to find something that may be even better than romantic movies and books. Podcasts. Fictional, romantic podcasts.
Otherwise known as audio dramas, these gems are mind-blowing experiences. Unfortunately, they are few and far between at this point in time. With podcasts becoming more and more popular, my hope is that writers will delve more into the form.
Now, the real question is, do they tick all the boxes of our favourite movies and books?
The audio increases the verisimilitude. As we are already used to the forms of movies and books, there is a greater sense that this is fictional when we begin them. It takes a very engaging novel or film for us to forget this. It takes seamless construction. As a new medium, I did not find the same issue with the podcasts. Even though I began my journey with podcasts in the interest of writing them myself, and thus searched them out to learn from them, I almost immediately forgot at the beginning of each one that this is a constructed piece. I forgot that the radio show isn’t real, and these people flirting on air aren’t real either (thank you, Kaleidotrope).
Writing for audio is different in that you have to rely entirely on the interesting plot/characters/dialogue. There is no fancy camera work or famous actors or poetic sentences to distract. The interest must be captured straight away, the audience must believe straight away, and it must stay like that, otherwise, people opt out very quickly. Because of that, there is a level of quality to romantic podcasts that isn’t there for some novels or films.
Audio is a concoction of mediums — crossing the borders of the written word and the play, without one of the largest senses: sight. Perhaps because of this, this space of crossing boundaries seems to have become a place for queer expression. Many of the romantic podcasts I have listened to and found have featured lgbtqia+ couples, and it is actually the best thing ever.
Along similar lines, the form allows for audience participation in the gaps and absences of the story. It is in these moments where you fill in/imagine things in your own head. There is a higher level of engagement I have found for this medium. There are these lovely moments of implication within audio, where you are given shreds of a scene. It’s much like real life. You only gather so much about a situation at once, and it’s often what is unsaid that helps you come to understand what is happening/how people are feeling.
In this way, you become a sleuth. You only hear so much, and it’s like you’re present in the scene, piecing things together. You go Aha! he’s not replying right now because he does like him. And then bam, you were right. There really is no satisfaction quite like having your guess be right. Movies and books have these moments, absolutely. But the frequency with which they appear in audio is astonishing and relishing.
Audio is an incredibly intimate thing. You are alone in your head when you listen to music, headphones in. Now there are voices, speaking to one another. Flirting with one another. It’s cute, it’s heart-stopping. The absence of anything else centres you onto that single sense. It pulls everything to a point of concentration, and you really savour the story you are able to unravel. You are a part of the story in a way you cannot be with books and movies, where there is a distance in the form itself. Furthermore, you fall in love with the voices, and it doesn’t matter what the actors look like. You can imagine it all for yourself. Unless described otherwise (which they usually aren’t) the characters are yours to design.
So, do romantic podcasts tick all the boxes of our favourite movies and books? My answer: absolutely. If you’re looking for a few to get started on, I would suggest The Grand Sophy, Kaleidotrope, or The Two Princes. For something a bit more mature, Dreamboy is fantastic as well. They are all diverse in themes and style, so not all of them will suit you. But they are (absolutely) worth dipping into! Happy listening!
Featured image via @kaleidotropepod on Twitter